ISIS Claims Responsibility for Third Attack on Christians in Quetta
04/16/2017 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that at least two Christians were killed and three others were wounded when gunmen opened fire on a group of Christians gathered in the Essa Nagri area of Quetta, Pakistan. ISIS’s local branch claimed responsibility for Sunday’s deadly attack, marking its third attack on Christians in Quetta in recent months.
“Four men on two motorbikes opened indiscriminate fire” on a group of Christians, “killing two people while injuring three others,” local police official Abdul Razzaq Cheema told AFP. The shooting took place around 5:30 p.m. Victims were rushed to Bolan Medical Complex in Quetta where two of the victims, Azhar Iqbal and Rahid Khalid, succumbed to their wounds.
The attack took place in the Christian-majority neighborhood of Esa Nagri in Quetta. Following the attack, hundreds of Christians gathered to protest the killings. Protesters burned tires and blocked traffic as they called on the government to provide their community with greater security.
“The Christian community in Quetta has yet again become a target of rising intolerance and violence in society,” Pakistan’s National Commission for Justice and Peace said in a statement. “[We] strongly condemn these acts of terrorism and violence.”
Sunday’s shooting marks the third attack on Christians claimed by ISIS in Quetta. In December 2017, ISIS suicide bombers attacked Bethel Memorial Methodist Church, killing nine and injuring dozens more. Two weeks ago, on April 2, ISIS claimed responsibility for the targeted killing of a Christian family riding in an auto-rickshaw in Quetta. Following the attack, ISIS said that a “covert unit” of its militants “managed to target a number of the combatant Christians.”
“The Christian community is feeling insecure and threatened,” Pastor Simon of Bethel Memorial Methodist Church in Quetta told ICC. “We are not safe at places of worship, schools, or residential apartments. The majority of Christians are so depressed they are not sending their children to school and even avoid going to gatherings such as social or religious events.”
William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “We here at International Christian Concern stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Pakistan in condemning this heinous attack. No one should fear being attacked and killed because of their religious identity. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time Christians in Quetta have had to face this extreme violence. Pakistan’s authorities must do more to secure Christians and their places of worship. Pakistan must also make efforts to root out the extremist elements perpetrating these attacks. Until then, it is likely that attacks on the Christian community of Quetta will continue.”
For interviews with William Stark, Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: email@example.com